For a bundle E over a manifold M, the associated "configuration-section spaces" are spaces of configurations of points in M together with a section of E over the complement of the configuration. One often considers subspaces where the behaviour of the section near a configuration point -- a kind of "monodromy" -- is restricted or prescribed. These are examples of "non-local configuration spaces", and may be interpreted physically as moduli spaces of "fields with prescribed singularities" in an ambient manifold.
An important class of examples is given by Hurwitz spaces, which are moduli spaces of branched G-coverings of the 2-disc, and which are homotopy equivalent to certain configuration-section spaces on the 2-disc. Ellenberg, Venkatesh and Westerland proved that, under certain conditions, Hurwitz spaces are (rationally) homologically stable; from this they then deduced an asymptotic version of the Cohen-Lenstra conjecture for function fields, a purely number-theoretical result.
We will discuss another homological stability result for configuration-section spaces, which holds (with integral coefficients) whenever the base manifold M is connected and open. We will also show that the "stabilisation maps" are split-injective (in all degrees) whenever dim(M) is at least 3 and M is either simply-connected or its handle dimension is at most dim(M) - 2.
This represents joint work with Ulrike Tillmann.